from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- conj. Used in indirect questions to introduce one alternative: We should find out whether the museum is open. See Usage Notes at doubt, if.
- conj. Used to introduce alternative possibilities: Whether she wins or whether she loses, this is her last tournament.
- conj. Either: He passed the test, whether by skill or luck.
- pro. Archaic Which: "We came in full View of a great Island or Continent, (for we knew not whether)” ( Jonathan Swift).
- idiom whether or no Regardless of circumstances.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- conj. Introducing a direct interrogative question (often with correlative or) which indicates doubt between alternatives.
- conj. Used to introduce an indirect interrogative question that consists of multiple alternative possibilities (usually with correlative or).
- conj. Without a correlative, used to introduce a simple indirect question; if, whether or not.
- conj. Used to introduce a disjunctive adverbial clause which qualifies the main clause of the sentence (with correlative or).
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- pro. Which (of two); which one (of two); -- used interrogatively and relatively.
- conj. In case; if; -- used to introduce the first or two or more alternative clauses, the other or others being connected by or, or by or whether. When the second of two alternatives is the simple negative of the first it is sometimes only indicated by the particle not or no after the correlative, and sometimes it is omitted entirely as being distinctly implied in the whether of the first.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- A. interrog. Which (of two)? which one?
- B. rel. (always in compound relative use, or with the antecedent implied, not expressed). Which (of two, or, less exactly, of more than two).
- A. interrog. Which (of two. or of the two)? which one (of two)?
- B. rel. Which (of two); which one (of two); also, more indefinitely, whichever.
- In troducing the first of two direct (alternative) questions, the second being introduced by or (literally, which of those two things [is true]?).
- Introducing a single direct question, the al ternative being unexpressed, and sometimes only dimly implied.
- Introducing the first of two (or more) alternatives, the second being intro duced by or (or or whether).
- Introducing a single alternative, the other being implied: as, I do not know whether he is yet gone
- See no.
- An obsolete form of whither.
Middle English, from Old English hwether; see kwo- in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English hwæþer, from Proto-Germanic *hwaþeraz, comparative form of *hwaz (“who”). Cognate with German weder ("neither"), Swedish hvar, Icelandic hvorr ("each"). (Wiktionary)